You’ve received a scary Deficiency Notice from the IDFPR, accusing you of some type of unethical or unprofessional misconduct. You felt the clutching fear in your stomach and chest when you realized that a big impersonal government agency is coming after you and the license you worked so hard to earn.
You fear you may be torn from your patients and the profession you care so much about. What will you do? How will you pay your bills? It’s crushing.
In Illinois, chiropractors are governed by the State Medical Disciplinary Board under the “Medical Practice Act of 1987.” Common allegations against chiropractors include: insurance or healthcare fraud, irregularities in recordkeeping, physical or mental impairment, providing substandard or negligent chiropractic care, sexual misconduct, breach of confidentiality, unprofessional conduct, DUI or other criminal arrest or conviction, or substance abuse. These are serious charges.
What’s going to happen? Here’s a quick summary, the top 10 ten things chiropractors can expect during a Disciplinary Hearing in front of the Illinois Dept of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR):
- A Formal Process: The disciplinary hearing will use a formal process with specific rules and procedures that must be followed.
- Panel Members: The panel hearing the case will be composed of members appointed by the IDFPR. The panel will consist of a mix of licensed professionals and public members.
- Presentation of Evidence: Both the IDFPR and the chiropractor will have the opportunity to present evidence and call witnesses to testify on their behalf. This may include medical records, witness statements, and expert testimony.
- Cross-Examination: After each witness testifies, the opposing party will be able to cross-examine them to challenge their credibility and testimony. Like on TV, your attorney will try to poke holes in the statements made by anyone testifying against you.
- Adjudicative Hearing: An “adjudicative hearing” is not a discussion or negotiation; it is a formal legal proceeding where the panel hears evidence and makes a decision based on that evidence. It may feel like you’re in court, but it’s an administrative hearing under the “Civil Administrative Code of Illinois”―it does not follow the same rules as the civil or criminal courtrooms.
- Potential Outcomes: The possible outcomes of an IDFPR disciplinary hearing include a dismissal of the case, a reprimand, temporary suspension or permanent revocation of your chiropractic license, or probation with conditions.
- Formal Decision: After the hearing ends, the panel will “deliberate,” i.e. privately and thoroughly discuss the case and evidence. They’ll then issue a written decision, which will include “findings of fact” (what they believe happened) and “conclusions of law” (how the law applies to your case).
- Burden of Proof: The IDFPR has the burden of proving its case “by a preponderance of the evidence.” This means that the evidence must show that it is “more likely than not” that the allegations are true―just 50.1%.
- Legal Representation: It is highly recommended that chiropractors hire a lawyer who specializes exclusively in “IDFPR licensing cases,” and know how the Medical Practice Act of 1987 applies to chiropractors. These are complex administrative hearings―entirely different than basic civil lawsuits. Hire the most specialized expert you can find, i.e. you don’t hire a dermatologist for brain surgery.
- Importance of Preparation: The preparation for a disciplinary hearing is critical to the outcome of the case. It is vital to gather evidence, prepare witnesses, and work with an experienced attorney who can present a strong defense.
By knowing what to expect during a disciplinary hearing in front of the IDFPR, chiropractors can be better prepared to protect their professional reputation and livelihood. Good luck!
Contact an Illinois Chiropractic License Attorney
At Williams & Nickl, LLC, Edward and Fred can help you understand the best steps to take to ensure that you receive your license when you need it. To schedule your free consultation, contact us today at 312-335-9470.